4th Jul, 2022

Plea for support as Tier 4 restrictions hit businesses

THE Government must introduce additional support to save businesses and jobs following the decision to move the West Midlands into Tier 4 Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, business leaders have said.

The call comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said infection rates in lower tier areas of England had risen rapidly in the past seven days, according to government data.

Areas in the West Midlands – Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Solihull, Warwickshire and Staffordshire – had just nine hours notice that they were moving into Tier 4.

Tier 4 rules include a ‘stay at home’ order, and mean businesses such as hairdressers and gyms must close.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), said: “We are dismayed at the continuing lack of additional support for businesses, despite the continuing escalation in cases and measures.

“As Mr Hancock says, the vaccine provides a route out of pandemic restrictions by the Spring. That’s still another quarter or more of no or little trade for businesses required to close and their supply chains – over 12 months of Covid lockdowns or restrictions in total.

“It’s an impossible situation for many businesses to survive without further support.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but businesses need the Government to keep laying down the tracks in order to reach it.

“We will continue to call on the Chancellor to back our businesses by enhancing grant support for the most impacted businesses with higher overheads and take urgent action on VAT and business rates reliefs and other key measures.

“Businesses need to see a viable way through these short term, but financially brutal, conditions.

“Furlough is a lifeline for many – but it’s not free and businesses that cannot trade for any significant length of time cannot afford to keep paying national insurance and pension contributions.

“The Government must take action now in order to save businesses, save jobs and in turn, ensure higher tax returns and lower defaults on government backed loans for years to come.”

Mr Faulkner also urged people to buy locally where possible.

“Christmas may be over but local businesses still need our support.

“Whether its gifts, treats or alternatives to the weekly shop, if you can, please continue to keep local businesses front of mind when deciding how to spend, as we continue to navigate through these extraordinary times.”

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